Resources

Organizations

Middle East Institute  |  This esteemed think tank was created in 1946 as a place for accurate and rigorous research for the post-war Middle East. While much has changed over the 66 years since their inception, with American interests waxing and waning, the Middle East Institute has carried on and kept its pledge of non-partisanship. Today, they are involved throughout the region, from North Africa to Western Asia, and cover a wide array of interests including culture, the environment, politics, and human rights. The research they produce can be found in The Middle East Journal, the first scholarly journal to focus exclusively on the Middle East.

The Parents Circle – Families Forum  |  This organization is comprised of over 600 Israeli and Palestinian families that have lost a close family member due to the chronic fighting in the region. Starting in 1995 with Israeli families, Palestinian families started joining the group in 1998. The mission of the Parents Circle – Families Forum (PCFF) is to create a framework for reconciliation, and influence policy makers and the public to seek peace through empathy instead of war. PFCC tries to achieve these goals through face-to-face reconciliation projects, media outlets such as documentaries and a TV drama, member seminars, and professional training for activists.

Studies and Initiatives

Charter for Compassion  |  Created by theological academic Karen Armstrong and financed through a TED (of TED podcast fame) grant, the Charter for Compassion is a short document that “transcends religious, ideological, and national differences.” The charter recognizes that compassion is a desired quality throughout the world and something all people respect. With that understanding, the charter implores all of humanity to bring compassion back into the forefront of our actions, demonstrated through non-violence, cultural understanding, embracing religious diversity, and more. The Charter for Compassion also sponsors events and shares stories of compassion around the world on their website.

A Common Word  |  In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 gave a lecture in which he quoted a controversial passage from a Byzantine king.  In response, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world (representing every branch of Islam) wrote an open letter to the Pope in the spirit of intellectual exchange and mutual understanding. Exactly one year later, 138 Muslim scholars and authorities, again representing every branch of Islam and every major Islamic country and region, came together to unanimously declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam. The collaboration was presented as a paper, A Common Word Between You and Us, which adapted the Islamic position of respecting Christian scripture and, “call[ed] [for] Christians to be more, not less, faithful to it [the scripture].” The paper is intended to support the organizations already involved in interfaith dialogue. It will also provide a theological foundation based on the teachings of the Prophet and Jesus’ commandments in the Bible to love God and love your neighbor.

News Sources

Middle East Report  |  Published quarterly by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), the Middle East Report was first published in 1971. The magazine provides news and perspectives not found in Western mainstream media and also voices opinions of scholars not well known in the West. Furthermore, Middle East Report has earned a reputation as being independent and fair in its analysis. Aside from the magazine, MERPI also operates a scholarly website.

Al-Bab  |  This news source began as a way to access information about Yemen in 2009, but has grown since then to cover each Arab country that is a member of the Arab League. The website offers daily news updates, and under each country’s category there are links to more in-depth information. Furthermore, there are also categories such as special interests and arts and culture that have even more information.

Feature Stories

BBC feature “Young in the Arab World”  |  What it means to be young in the Arab world today is the topic of this four-part series. Mounira Chaeib of the BBC travels to the capitals of Lebanon, Egybt, Bahrain, and Morocco to interview young adults. In Lebanon, Beirut is a hip, thriving town where young men and women come to party, but those living there cannot find jobs to match their education. Young Egyptians living in Cairo feel the pressure of the education system both before taking the university exam and after graduation. Bahrain is known as a place Saudis can drink alcohol and party, but it also has an emerging business and finance sector on which its young people are attempting to capitalize.  Finally, young people in Morocco are often lured away from home by the opportunities of Europe, but some men and women are coming back and trying to reverse the flow.

CNN special “God’s Warriors”  |  In this three-part documentary, CNN’s Christine Amanpour reports on religious fundamentalism’s encroachment into modern politics. The report has one segment on the three global, monotheistic religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Part one, Judaism, concentrates on the rise of settlements in Palestine and the American fundraising that supports it. Part two, Islam, delves into radical Islam and Sharia law. Part three, Christianity, is focused on the political influence of Christian leadership, particularly the religious right. Each segment includes reports and interviews conducted by Amanpour, along with great footage of celebrated (and contested) religious landmarks in the Middle East.

Further Education

AET Book Club  |  As a way to inform readers about the Middle East and American foreign policy, the American Educational Trust created a book club for their members and the general public. The lack of interest in the Middle East was clear when considering that AET had to purchase their books from Europe and then ship them to the U.S. before Middle East books were published here. The book club’s website offers a detailed list of books, as well as highlighting newly arrived books and best sellers. Interested customers can also receive emails updating them on new books or books soon to come out.

Columbia University Middle East and Islamic Studies Collections  |  Columbia University’s library runs this Middle Eastern and Islamic collection. The Middle East collection consists of political, religious, and other studies on 21 Middle Eastern states, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Northern Africa. The Islamic collection covers all aspects of Islamic life, specifically art, history, literature, philosophy, and religion. As part of the collections, the website also offers helpful electronic resources such as an encyclopedia of the Quran and an Arabic e-library for language study. Addionally, the website provides collection guides and bibliographic resources.

Blogs

Girl Blog from Iraq  |  Girl Blog from Iraq was written by a twenty-four year old women living in Baghdad when the invasion began in August 2003. The blog ran for the next four years, recording the woman’s time living in occupied Baghdad, and later as a refugee in Syria. The blog is a deeply personal look into the daily life of a politically-minded Iraqi. The woman gives her opinions of American troops, discusses the political leadership of Iraq, and remarks on her new abilities to name the different weapons she hears being fired. Girl Blog from Iraq is a touching first-person account of war-torn Iraq.

Environment and Climate in the Middle East  |  This blog started as a research project attempting to understand the environmental aspect of the social and political changes in the Middle East during the late 1990s. Not advocating for Jewish or Muslim religious views, nor affiliated with any political ideologies of the region, Environment and Climate in the Middle East is simply a discussion of water, energy, transportation, waste, and similar issues relating to the environment. The blog produces academic pieces , shares relevant news articles, and offers suggestions for further reading.

Cultural Resources

Arab American National Museum  |  This museum is the only one of its kind in the United States and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Located in Dearborn, Michigan, there are four permanent exhibits: three which cover different stages of an immigrants’ life (coming to America, living in America, and lasting impacts of their lives) and one highlighting the contributions of Arab civilizations. The museum also has rotating exhibits emphasizing topics ranging from coffee to photography to Arab-Americans serving the U.S.

Seeds of Peace  |  “Peace is made by people.” That is the philosophy behind the summer camp Seeds of Peace. Journalist John Wallach set up the Maine camp in 1993 with 46 teenagers from America, Israel, Egypt, and Palestine so the future leaders could meet one another and build relationships. Everything Seeds does revolves around the campers because it is their futures that are affected by present conflict. Seeds has grown to include campers from 27 countries, and its network is made up of over 5,000 campers and educators.

Travel Abroad

The Center for Ecological Living and Learning  |  Based in Maine, the Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL) is a non-profit tour operator specializing in leading student abroads. CELL emphasizes “sustainability through community” on the trips they lead around the world. Their Middle East program goes one step further and incorporates peacebuilding into their curriculum. Potential site visits while in the West Bank and Jerusalem include the offices of Seeds of Peace, Common Paths, Palestine Peace Players, and Volunteering for Peace. The Middle East program is also special because CELL partners with the Euphrates Institute to lead the abroad.

Maps

The following websites offer different collections of maps highlighting the various aspects of the Middle East and North Africa. The assortment of maps range from factories in the Gaza strip to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991.

– From the University of Texas at Austin, an extensive and detailed collection of maps, almost all of which were produced by the Central Intelligence Agency.
– Middle East Web Maps includes detail and historical maps, and is also very extensive.
– The Foundation for Middle East Peace maps collection includes demographical as well as geographical maps.
– From blogger and essayist Juan Cole, this collection has contemporary and historical maps, as well as maps featuring ethnic groups.